Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has declared the area along Thane Creek as Flamingo Sanctuary, which will be spread over an area of 1,690 hectares, including 896 hectares of mangroves and 794 hectares of adjacent water body. “The Revenue and Forests Department has issued a notification declaring the Thane Creek as Flamingo Sanctuary,” N Vasudevan, Chief Conservator of Forests, Mangrove Cell, said here today.
“The notification was issued on August 6, declaring the northern part of Thane Creek as a Wildlife Sanctuary under Sec. 18 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972,” Vasudevan said. The Sanctuary, which is named as the “Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary” will be Maharashtra’s second Marine sanctuary, after Malvan. It will be spread over an area of 1,690 hectares, which includes 896 hectares of mangroves and 794 hectares of adjacent water body, he said. The Sanctuary will be located on the western bank of the Thane Creek, between the Airoli and Vashi bridges that connect Mumbai with Navi Mumbai. The eco-sensitive zone of the Sanctuary will be the adjoining mangrove areas on either side of the creek, which are already notified as Reserve Forests.
The ‘Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Unit’ under the Mangrove Cell will be responsible for the management of the Sanctuary. Since 1994, the Thane Creek has been attracting flamingos in large numbers. By November, over 30,000 of these beautiful birds, along with their chicks descend here and occupy the mudflats and the bordering mangroves. They stay here till May, after which most of them migrate to the Bhuj area of Gujarat for breeding, leaving a small resident population.
Almost 90 per cent of the Flamingo population consists of Lesser Flamingos and the remaining are Greater Flamingos. A large number of waders are also spotted along with them. Besides supporting a large congregation of Flamingos, the area is a refuge for many other resident and migratory birds. In all, about 200 species of birds have been reported from this area, which include Globally Threatened Species like the Greater Spotted Eagle.
Other bird species include the Pied Avocet, Western Reef Heron, Black-headed Ibis, Common Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Brown-headed Gull, Whiskered Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern, Little Tern, White Bellied Sea Eagle, Eurasian Marsh Harrier etc. ‘Birdlife International’ has already declared Thane Creek as an Important Bird Area (IBA).
Declaration of the Thane Creek Sanctuary, located right in the midst of a mega city, is a very significant step for the conservation of this unique natural environment with its eclectic mix of mangroves, mudflats and threatened species of birds, Vasudevan said.
Mangrove Cell has already initiated baseline studies and rapid biodiversity assessment of the Sanctuary area with assistance from the Indo-German (GIZ) Project on “Conservation and Sustainable Management of Marine Protected Areas (CMPA).” These studies would in turn help in the preparation of a scientific management plan for the Sanctuary and for its sustainable management. The ecosystem will be closely monitored and shielded from serious threats like discharge of effluents, dumping of sewage and other biotic interferences.
At the same time, the scientific community, wildlife enthusiasts and the general public could enjoy access to this natural wonder in a regulated manner. Suitable amenities will be provided for such regulated access to the site, without causing disturbance to the ecosystem.